Wade Davis (American football)

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Wade Alan Davis II (born July 28, 1977)[1] is an American speaker, activist, writer, educator and former American football player.

Wade Davis
refer to caption
Wade Davis speaking at the
2018 Tribeca Film Festival
No. 23, 25, 42, 36
Personal information
Born: (1977-07-28) July 28, 1977 (age 44)
Little Rock, Arkansas
Height:5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Weight:180 lb (82 kg)
Career information
High school:Aurora (CO) Overland
College:Weber State
Career history
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
Career highlights and awards

Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, Davis grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana and Aurora, Colorado. He played college football at Mesa State and Weber State. In 2000, Davis signed with the Tennessee Titans of the NFL as an undrafted free agent but was cut after the preseason. He made his professional debut in 2001 with the NFL Europe team Berlin Thunder and won the World Bowl IX title with the Thunder. After spending the 2001 preseason with the NFL's Seattle Seahawks, Davis again played the 2002 regular season in the NFL Europe with the Barcelona Dragons. He then participated in training camps and preseasons with the Tennessee Titans in 2002 and Washington Redskins in 2003 before retiring due to injury. After leaving the NFL, Davis became the captain of National Gay Flag Football League, the New York Warriors.

In 2012, Davis came out, publicly speaking about what it was like to be closeted and gay in the NFL.[2][3][4]

Davis is the former Executive Director and former Director of Professional Sports Outreach for the You Can Play project, an advocacy organization working to eradicate homophobia in professional sports. During his time at the You Can Play project, Davis developed curriculum, programming, training, and facilitated conversations focused on inclusion, equality, equity, and diversity. He formerly worked at the Hetrick-Martin Institute in New York City, New York, as the Assistant Director of Job Readiness, where he helped LGBT youth learn practical life skills and how to apply them.

Davis has been invited to keynote and present workshops at colleges, universities, and corporations around the globe. Davis has used his platform as an athlete to become an advocate for positive change through his workshops, keynotes, panel presentations, interviews, and writings.[5][6][7]

Early life and college yearsEdit

Davis was born in Little Rock, Arkansas and spent most of his childhood in Shreveport, Louisiana. He was raised in a Southern Baptist family and went to church four to five times a week.[8] He was the only boy and the youngest child in his family. He suffered from a speech impediment and did not like to talk, which added to his feelings of loneliness. At seven years of age, Davis discovered football.

Davis later moved to Aurora, Colorado and attended Overland High School, graduating in 1996.[1][9]

Davis played college football first at Mesa State College, a small college in Grand Junction, Colorado, in 1996. He transferred to Weber State University of Ogden, Utah in 1997 and played three seasons on the Weber State Wildcats football team. As a sophomore in 1997, he blocked two kicks. In 1999, his senior year, he made 11 tackles in one game for Weber State and was an honorable mention All-Big Sky Conference selection.[1] With Weber State, Davis made 142 tackles (3 for loss), one fumble recovery, 2 forced fumbles, 20 passes defended, and 2 interceptions.[10]


Professional footballEdit

At the NFL Scouting Combine of 2000, Davis ran the 40-yard dash in 4.55 seconds.[11] The Tennessee Titans signed him as an undrafted free agent on April 18, 2000 after the 2000 NFL Draft.[10] Davis was cut after training camp.[10]

In 2001, the Titans allocated Davis to the NFL Europe team Berlin Thunder. Starting all 10 games as left cornerback, he wore jersey number 23[12] and led Berlin with 57 tackles in the season and won World Bowl IX with the team. He also made 0.5 sack, 1 interception, and 5 passes defended. After the NFL Europe season, he spent the 2001 preseason in the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks.[10]

Davis was selected in the first round of the 2002 NFL Europe allocation draft by the Barcelona Dragons.[10] In 2002 with Barcelona, he wore jersey number 25[13] and made 41 tackles, 6 passes defended, and 5 special teams tackles.[14]

Wearing jersey number 42,[13] Davis returned to the Tennessee Titans in 2002 for training camp and preseason but was cut before the regular season.[15] In 2003, he participated in training camp with the Washington Redskins and wore jersey #36 but retired from football due to a leg injury.[2][16]

Activism, teaching, public speakingEdit

His activism, work and story has been featured in The Washington Post,[17] CNN,[18] Al Jazeera America,[19] NPR,[20] WBUR,[21] USA Today,[22] Ebony Magazine,[23] People Magazine,[24] BET,[25] Outsports,[26] and Bleacher Report.[27]

Davis has also been an Adjunct Professor at both the NYU School of Professional Studies Tisch Institute for Sports Management, Media, and Business and the Rutgers University School of Public Affairs and Administration.

Davis joined the Advisory Board for You Can Play, an organization dedicated to fighting homophobia in professional sports.[28] On August 20, 2013, he was named executive director of the organization.[29]

Davis co-founded, with Darnell L. Moore, the YOU Belong Initiative, an organization offering LGBTQ and straight allied youth a three-day, comprehensive sports instruction and leadership development clinic.[30] As part of YOU Belong, Davis also began the Speaker's Collective, aimed at providing support, promotion and sense of community for LGBTQ professionals of color.[31]

In 2014, Davis became the NFL's first Diversity and Inclusion Consultant, where he works with the NFL and their corporate sponsors to break down the barriers that exist between the NFL and the LGBT community by leading inclusion training sessions and national engagement initiatives.[32]

Davis created the "#ThisIsLuv" campaign alongside Darnell L. Moore, to highlight LGBT love in the Black community.[33][34]

Davis helped launch the Ms. Foundation campaign "#MyFeminismIs" and later partnered with the Ms. Foundation and Ebony Magazine to launch the "#BlackMenAndFeminism" campaign.[35]


In 2015 Davis starred in the documentary F(l)ag Football about the National Gay Flag Football League.[36] The following year he guest-starred on season 2 of the critically acclaimed drama American Crime in 2016. In 2019, he appeared as himself in a guest role in "Adam Ruins a Sitcom", a third-season episode of the series Adam Ruins Everything, in which he sought to raise awareness of toxic masculinity.


Davis' writing has appeared in The Huffington Post,[37][38][39] The New York Times, Outsports, Sports Illustrated,[40][41] The Advocate,[42][43] Good Housekeeping, and The Guardian.[44]

Davis' contributions are included in the book, For Colored Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Still Not Enough: Coming of Age, Coming Out, and Coming Home by Keith Boykin.[45]

His memoir, Interference, was scheduled to be released in 2015.[46] The memoir will chronicle his struggles growing up in a strict religious household and working and advocating for LGBTQ rights.[47]

Affiliations and membershipsEdit

Davis was appointed to the board of GMHC.[48]

He became a member of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network sport-advisory board in 2012.[49]

Davis is a supporter of President Barack Obama,[50] and worked as an LGBT surrogate for his 2012 reelection campaign.[51] During the 2016 presidential election, Davis criticized Hillary Clinton for "not having real courage" and endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders.[52]

Awards and honorsEdit

  • In 2014, Davis received an honorary Doctorate of Public Service from Northeastern University for his leadership and ongoing efforts to eradicate homophobia and sexism in athletics.[53]
  • Named one of the 50 Black LGBT Adults That Black LGBT Youth Should Know. 2012, National Youth Pride Services[54]
  • Named #46 on The Root 100, Black influencers and achievers, in ranked order[55]
  • Audre Lorde Founder's Award, Hispanic and Black Gay Coalition, 2012[56]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "Wade Davis biography". Tennessee Titans. Archived from the original on June 21, 2002.
  2. ^ a b Zeigler Jr., Cyd (June 5, 2012). "Wade Davis Talks for the First Time About Being Gay, Working with LGBT Youth". Outsports. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
  3. ^ Staff (June 7, 2012). "Gay NFL Player Wade Davis Kept Secret, Feared Locker Room Impact". Associated Press (via AOL Sports). Retrieved January 13, 2013.
  4. ^ Smith, Stephen (June 6, 2012). "Former NFL Player Wade Davis I Went to Strip Club to Hide from Being Gay". CBS News. Retrieved January 13, 2013.
  5. ^ Penn State News, Athletics to host discussion on You Can Play, inclusion in sports, October 23, 2014.
  6. ^ Samantha Neuber, Stanford Cal Athletes Unite for LGBT Inclusion Event, Stanford Daily, January 30, 2014.
  7. ^ The Huffington Post, Wade Davis II.
  8. ^ Moore, Darnell (June 22, 2012). "Wade Davis Jr. Former NFL Player Turned LGBT Advocate – The Football Hero-Turned Educator Discusses His Journey from the Closet to the Front Lines". Ebony. Retrieved January 13, 2013.
  9. ^ Hamrick, Jeff (September 7, 2000). "Safety Gamble is a tad short". Denver Post. Retrieved April 30, 2013.
  10. ^ a b c d e "Wade Davis". NFL Europe. Archived from the original on February 10, 2003.
  11. ^ "Wade Davis prospect biography". ESPN. Archived from the original on September 9, 2001.
  12. ^ "NFL EUROPE in association with Sportsline.com". August 11, 2001. Archived from the original on August 11, 2001. Retrieved October 8, 2015.
  13. ^ a b "NFL EUROPE in association with Sportsline.com". June 1, 2002. Archived from the original on June 1, 2002. Retrieved October 8, 2015.
  14. ^ "NFL EUROPE in association with Sportsline.com". February 10, 2003. Archived from the original on February 10, 2003. Retrieved October 8, 2015.
  15. ^ "Ex-Titans CB Wade Davis comes out". espn.com. Associated Press. June 7, 2012.
  16. ^ "Washington Redskins". Archived from the original on August 3, 2003. Retrieved October 8, 2015.
  17. ^ Kent Babb, Wade Davis, a former Redskins player turned gay rights activist, worked with NFL on Michael Sam announcement, Washington Post, February 17, 2014.
  18. ^ Soledad O'Brien, Former NFL player Wade Davis says it 'was very, very lonely' being closeted while playing, June 6, 2012.
  19. ^ Jessica Taff, Out on the field: Former NFL player Wade Davis opens up, Al Jazeera America, May 12, 2014.
  20. ^ All Things Considered, A Shifting Playing Field: Coming Out As A Gay Athlete, October 13, 2012.
  21. ^ Here & Now, Ex-NFLer Wade Davis: League Is Ready For Gay Player, February 12, 2014.
  22. ^ Lindsay H. Jones, Owners embrace Wade Davis' message on respect for gay players, USA Today, March 25, 2014.
  23. ^ Darnell L. Moore, Exclusive: Wade Davis, Jr: Former NFL Player Turned LGBT Advocate, Ebony, June 22, 2012.
  24. ^ Jeff Truesdell, Gay Former NFL Player Wade Davis: Out Youth Taught Me to Be Fearless, May 17, 2014.
  25. ^ News Exclusives: Wade Davis Fights for Gay Rights (Part 1), June 15, 2012.
  26. ^ Cyd Zeigler, Wade Davis talks for the first time about being gay in the NFL, working with LGBTQ youth, Outsports, Jun 5, 2012.
  27. ^ Mike Freeman, NFL Draft: How Wade Davis and Others Paved the Way for Michael Sam, Bleacher Report, Apr 23, 2014.
  28. ^ "Davis, Kahrl and Tuaolo Join You Can Play Advisory Board". The You Can Play Project. Retrieved August 28, 2013.
  29. ^ "Wade Davis, Out Gay Former NFL Player, Will Lead Group Promoting LGBT Equality In Sports". BuzzFeed. Retrieved August 28, 2013.
  30. ^ YOU Belong Initiative Sports Camp.
  31. ^ YOU Belong Initiative, Speaker's Collective.
  32. ^ "I was the first NFL LGBT inclusion consultant". December 7, 2016. Retrieved September 2, 2018.
  33. ^ "#ThisisLuvHighlights LGBT Love and Acceptance - Black Listed". EBONY. February 16, 2015. Retrieved October 8, 2015.
  34. ^ Wade Davis II, #ThisIsLuv: Black Families+LGBT People= Love, February 16, 2015.
  35. ^ "Why More Black Men Must Be Feminists - EBONY". April 25, 2016. Retrieved September 2, 2018.
  36. ^ de la Cretaz, Britni (July 6, 2017). "Inside the National Gay Flag Football League With 'F(l)ag Football'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved June 5, 2018.
  37. ^ Wade Davis, Coming Out: Is It All About You? Huff Post, October 11, 2012.
  38. ^ Wade Davis and Darnell L. Moore, Tongues Untied: On 'Barbershop Conversations,' Black Masculinity, and Sexuality, Huff Post Gay Voices, July 27, 2012.
  39. ^ Wade Davis, An Open Letter to Young LGBT Athletes, Huff Post Gay Voices, June 21, 2012.
  40. ^ Wade Davis, The Bravest of All, Michael Sam Moves Us Forward, SI.com, Feb. 10, 2014.
  41. ^ Wade Davis, "Only Love Drives Out Hate". Sports Illustrated July 24, 2014.
  42. ^ Wade Davis, "Op-ed: How the NFL Is Tackling LGBT Issues". The Advocate, January 31, 2014.
  43. ^ Wade Davis, "Op-ed: How Straight Silence Betrays Gay Teammates", The Advocate, February 1, 2013.
  44. ^ Wade Davis (February 11, 2014). Why is everyone so afraid of the NFL's first openly gay star? The Guardian.
  45. ^ Keith Boykin (2012). For Colored Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Still Not Enough: Coming of Age, Coming Out, and Coming Home (Magnus Books). ISBN 1936833158.
  46. ^ "Biography". HuffPost. Retrieved October 8, 2015.
  47. ^ "Leadership Lecture Series: Wade Davis". WhatsOnWilmington.com. October 6, 2014. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
  48. ^ Press Release: GMHC Expands Leadership, February 3, 2015.
  49. ^ The GLSEN Sports Project, Changing the Game Advisory Group: "Wade Davis". Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.
  50. ^ Opalewski, Kate (June 7, 2012). "Wade Davis Out for Obama – Former Out NFL Player on Paying It Forward". Between the Lines (via PrideSource). Retrieved January 13, 2013.
  51. ^ (May 4, 2016). [1].
  52. ^ Wade Davis II [@Wade_Davis28] (December 5, 2015). "#BernieSandersForPresident2016 I'm all in 4 Bernie now. I'm tired of #HillaryClinton not having real courage. I'm all in for @BernieSanders" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  53. ^ News at Northeastern, Northeastern announces 2014 honorary degree recipients, April 4, 2014.
  54. ^ Staff (September 18, 2013). "50 Black LGBT Adults Every Black LGBT Youth Should Know – #2 Wade Davis". National Youth Pride Services. Retrieved January 13, 2013.
  55. ^ Holloway, Lynette (undated). "2012 The Root 100 – Wade Davis II Is an Ex-NFL Player Who Came Out of the Closet to Help Gay Athletes and Youths". The Root. Retrieved January 13, 2013.
  56. ^ Dan Meyer, HBGC Honors NFL’s Wade Davis, Jr., Nov 23, 2012

External linksEdit